The Power of Compound Interest
by Elizabeth Tice
Even though I’m now the Chief Operating Officer, I am still a numbers girl at heart. Math has always been my friend! One of the first action items John and I were able to execute together was the increase of the Company match (to our retirement plan) from 2.5% to 6%. This excites me a great deal. While I love my job and working with every one of you each day, I do think about my future. Like many of you, I have dreams that, down the road, I may be able to retire and spend more time with my toes in the sand on a beach somewhere. And that extra 3.5% company match, thanks to compound interest, will go far.
Compound interest is when you add the earned interest back into your principal balance, which then earns you even more interest, compounding your returns. Let’s say you have $1,000 in a savings account that earns 5% in annual interest. In year one, you’d earn $50, giving you a new balance of $1,050. In year two, you would earn 5% on the larger balance of $1,050, which is $52.50—giving you a new balance of $1,102.50 at the end of year two. The more you put towards savings, the more interest you earn, and the greater your savings grow.
(And yes, if I find a bank that offers 5% interest on savings accounts – I’ll let everyone know where it is!)
Where the impact of compound interest can be significant is in your retirement account, especially for our younger employees who may just be starting their careers and have decades ahead of them to continue to contribute.
Let’s look at Becky, who is 25 and a case manager that makes $45,000 per year. If Becky starts putting in 6% of her salary in order to receive the company match of 6%, that’s $5,400 per year going into her retirement fund. If she were to receive an average raise of 4% per year and continued saving, with a modest 6% return, until the age of 65 – she would retire with slightly over $1.5 million. If the company match had remained at 2.5%, her retirement fund at 65 would be about half a million less.
Even if you are closer to the end of your career, investing in the 403(b) plan can be a wise choice, as not participating essentially leaves 6% of your salary on the table. And an added benefit of investing in a 403(b) plan is that it reduces your taxable income now.
Okay, here is the disclaimer our compliance folks likely want me to say. I’m not a financial planner, just a numbers geek. I can’t advise you on what you should or shouldn’t do with your personal finances. But I do encourage you, if you have questions about the retirement plan, to reach out to One America, who can help you make informed choices that work for you!
They can be reached at 1-800-249-6269 or online at pages.oneamerica.com/mindsprings